Benefits of Exercise
There is strong scientific evidence that being physically active allows you to have a healthier and happier life. Persons are less active these days; we travel using cars, trains and other means of transport, and this has significantly reduced the amount of physical activity we get from walking. Fewer persons do manual work and most jobs involve little physical effort. It is very common for persons to entertain themselves by watching television or a computer screen. These realities have contributed to our lack of physical activity. It is estimated that adults spend more than 7 hours a day sitting down at work, on transport or during their relaxation time; this has made our generation one of the most sedentary.
Sedentary behavior is bad for our health and has been described as a “silent killer”. Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain and obesity. Additionally, it is thought to increase our risk of developing many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. You should regularly do two types of exercises each week to improve your health. These are aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
1) Weight Control
Physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. You gain weight when the calories you burn (including those burned during exercise) are less than the calories you eat or drink. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular exercise and a healthy diet.
2) Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes
Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, and can also help persons with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
3) Reduce the Risk of Some Cancers
There is substantial evidence that higher levels of physical activity are linked to lower risks of several cancers particularly breast, colon and endometrial cancer. Regular exercise is also beneficial for cancer survivors, especially with regards to their quality of life, cancer recurrence or progression, and prognosis.
4) Strengthen Bones and Muscles
Exercise can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age, it can also increase or maintain muscle mass and strength. Exercise is also beneficial for persons with arthritis, as it improve their ability to manage pain and do everyday tasks.
5) Improves Daily Activities for Older Persons
Regular exercise may help older persons reduce their risk of physical disability, and maintain their independence to perform their routine activities of daily living and self care. Balance and muscle strengthening exercises may also help to reduce the risk of falls.
6) Improves Mental Health and Mood
Exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and more. It relieves stress, improves memory, improves sleep, and boosts overall mood. People who exercise regularly may experience a sense of well being, and may feel more energetic throughout the day.
For more information about the benefits of exercise on mental health, visit the link below.
TALK TEST AND EXERCISE INTENSITY
The talk test is a simple way to measure exercise intensity. In general, if you are doing moderate-intensity exercise you can talk during the activity. If you are doing vigorous-intensity exercise, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Below are a few examples of different exercises that you can perform.
Moderate Intensity Exercises
Vigorous Intensity Exercises
Visit the link below to learn more about how to calculate your exercise target heart rate. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm
EXERCISE GUIDELINES FOR ADULTS
To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and should do any of the following exercise options below:
One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days every week.
See image 1 below for summary of different physical activities and their intensities.
See image 2 below for summary of exercise guidelines.
Tips to ensure exercise routines are safe
Try to prevent injury
Make sure your shoes and equipment fit properly and are right for the activity. Check your equipment regularly for safety. Some exercises require that you get the technique right to ensure that you are using your muscles correctly, so you may initially need an expert to demonstrate to you the correct method.
Be aware of your body
Pay attention to how a particular exercise makes you feel. You may not be able to do some activities as well as other can. If something doesn’t feel right, you can stop and take a break. If you think that you have injured yourself you should seek medical advice.
It is ok to not exercise for 7 days a week. You can have at least one recovery day each week to rest. If you are experiencing pain, rest until the pain has gone.
Warm up and cool down
This is important to prevent injury and to prep the body. A warm up increases the temperature and flexibility of your muscles, and helps you be more efficient during your workout. Cooling down allows for a gradual decrease in body temperature and heart rate, and can prevent muscle cramping and stiffness.
You can lose a lot of fluid during exercise, so it is important to drink water before, during and after a session. If you’re not hydrated, your body cannot perform at its highest level. Water is the best choice. Persons doing vigorous exercise for longer than an hour can have sports drinks, however they are high in added sugar.
Tips to ensure you are consistent with exercise
Set realistic goals
Make sure you have reasonable expectations regarding your exercise program. You should choose activities that you know are accessible and/or affordable for you, so that you can stay consistent. You are much more likely to stick with your exercise program if it is convenient for you.
Choose a variety of exercises/ activities
Boredom is a common reason for quitting an exercise program. If you think that you get bored easily, you can choose various exercises or activities that make working out fun. Some persons really enjoy working out with others, and some prefer to exercise alone. Choose which is more suitable for you.
Stay Motivated! Stay Dedicated!
It is not easy for everyone to stay committed to an exercise program. It is not a fun experience for all. Try exercising around the same time everyday, this will allow you to get in the habit of exercising at a particular time of day. Pack your exercise stuff away the day before; that way you are already mentally prepared for the activity.
Know that it is ok if you miss your exercise regimen sometimes, just keep going, and know that you can do it. Do Not Give Up!
I hope these tips on THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE were helpful; Remember, Your Health is Invaluable.
By Dr. J. Lawarna Matthew
Center for Disease Control
National Health Service
Visit the links above for more information.
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Dr. J. Lawarna Matthew